Debt trap with no room for manoeuvre

DAVID CAMERON ignores demands from his Lib-Dem cohorts to tax millionaires' mansions, yet he has no scruples about hitting the poor with a tax on spare rooms.

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As those millionaires enjoy a £100,000 Tory tax cut, 600,000 working-age tenants will find their homes under threat.

From April they will attack the £23billion-a-year housing benefit bill.

Officially it's called the 'under-occupancy charge' but the 'bedroom tax' isn't a tax at all. It is cost-cutting given a DIY makeover to look like a housing solution.

There is a social housing waiting list of 1.8million and we have 1million spare bedrooms (so fill them with the Romanians and Bulgarians predicted to invade these shores next year! Sorted).

To "encourage" downsizing and ease overcrowding, tenants with one spare room will lose 14% of their benefit – £13-a-week on average – and 25% for two or more.

Cameron admits that if everyone affected were to move, demand would outstrip supply at both ends of the housing ladder.

And if everyone could downsize, exchanging with larger families, where would Cameron make his projected savings of £505m a year?

No, the Tories couldn't care less about folk desperate for council houses.

Their motivation is entirely financial, banking on tenants finding extra cash from God knows where.

Lib Dems pensions minister Steve Webb says more than 100,000 affected are in work: "So they could work a bit more and simply pay the shortfall".

Simples. There's so much work out there, after all.

The bedroom tax is the brainchild of welfare minister Lord Freud, an adviser to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown until he jumped ship to join the Tories.

This unelected peer lives in a multi-bedroomed mansion and is so out of touch he told an Inverness father he did not deserve a spare room for his kids as they stay with him only on weekends and holidays.

He's also the architect of Universal Credit. Lord help us.

So what constitutes a spare room?

Pensioners, who often end up with bigger houses, are exempt.

What about couples who sleep in separate rooms for health reasons; the disabled in adapted homes; those who need carers to stay overnight?

Many tenants may like to downsize to something more manageable, but the Tories' idea of "encouragement" is to hit them on the head with a hammer.

Rather than cut the welfare bill, the bedroom tax will increase it.

Tenants will be forced into more expensive private lets, or even costly evictions.

The Tories – and the SNP, come to that – would be better seeing that more homes were built.

As well as creating jobs, it would stop benefit going to private landlords who demand obscene rents.

Yes, the UK benefits system has nurtured state dependency on a grand scale, but the bedroom tax is abhorrent.

With any luck it will do for Cameron what the poll tax did for Mrs Thatcher.

WHEN a top cop slams Scotland's "national shame", we're spoilt for choice with drugs, drink, health and knife crime.

But Chief Inspector Graham Goulden of the Violence Reduction Unit singles out domestic abuse.

Scotland had 10,159 incidents last year, costing our economy £2.3billion.

Figures peak at festive time, bank holidays ... and Old Firm games.

Women pray Celtic and Rangers avoid cup clashes, while 80% of 11-year-olds in a Glasgow study thought it was OK to hit a woman if she was late with dinner.

What hope for their kids?

Finance

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